In medieval times, Lifton, as a Royal Manor, was in the gift of the
The only royal visitor we know of was Charles I who came unexpectedly, riding up the main street, one July morning in 1644, surrounded by his Cavaliers and men-at-arms. This was during the Civil War and Charles was making a desperate effort to rally the Royalists of Cornwall to stem the attacks of the Parliamentary Army under Essex.
Charles stayed the night at the Manor House, now The Old Rectory, which is behind the wall on the grassy mound in the main road near the traffic lights.
The cockpit in the hotel garden (now the rod and tackle room) is also over 250 years old and is said to be one of the few cockpits in England which still survive. The roof is new but most of the walls are original. Inside, the circular rod rack encloses the area of a raised earth mound - which was there until about 1970 - where the cocks were set to fight.
Cock-fighting was made illegal in 1834, not on grounds of its cruelty to animals
The White Horse Inn was not then a part of the estate and around 1815 William Arundell, bought the inn for £1,680 which he thought was too expensive but he wrote that it was worth it because "it is the best and most respectable inn in the village". At certain times there were as many as 14 or 16 inns in Lifton, all of them brewing their own beer.
William Arundell gave the inn its new name and The Arundell Arms were put up outside - a shield with the martlets or swallows prominently in the centre. The Arundells, originally a Norman-French family, took this name from the French word for swallow -
The connection was not to last as long as William Arundell must have hoped. He had built the big house at Lifton Park, got into money difficulties, and according to local legend gambled away the whole of his estate including the inn as a stake in a snail race.
We are not certain when it happened. In 1842, he was still the owner, By 1850 the owner was Henry Blagrove who was living in Arundell’s house at Lifton Park. Perhaps it was Blagrove who had won the bet. We do not know.
The Arundell Arms (7 bedrooms, 3 parlours, a bar and stables) was then in the charge of Mrs Elizabeth Ball who also took bookings for the mail coaches which stopped at Lifton on their way to and from Exeter and Falmouth - a two-day journey on the old turnpike roads. By 1860, however, the Great Western Railway opened a station at Lifton on the newly-laid Exeter to Launceston line. Local life was transformed. It must have seemed like a miracle at the time. Lifton was suddenly in fast and daily contact with the outside world. London could be reached in comfort, within a day instead of a highly uncomfortable stage-coach journey which might last a week. The Great Western and British Rail served Lifton well for over 100 years until the station was finally closed in December 1962. The last train to run - a ceremonial and sentimental journey - had to be cancelled because of heavy snow.
From the Victorian times onwards we know the names of the owners and lessees or licensees of the hotel: William Newberry (1842), Mrs Ball (1850), John Sexton (1866), William Raymond (1870), William Ball (1883) and William Labbett (1893). We also know what the village looked like and who lived there.
A tailor’s shop, with 4 or 5 tailors, was in the house opposite the hotel, which is now the hotel annexe. The village had its own butcher, mason, blacksmith, shoemaker and dairyman. Carriers called. The penny post came every day.
On the last Thursday of
The village had a literary institute and a reading room and there was a National School for over 200 children which had been built in 1871 by the Lord of the Manor, Henry Bradshaw. The school building (in the hotel car park) is now used as a conference centre.
From 1900 to 1924 the owner of the hotel, Ernest Miller, rented 8 miles of trout water from Lifton Park estate, made improvements - there were now eight bedrooms-and provided a pony and trap service to bring visitors to and from the station, take them to the fishing
Albert Blatchford took over the hotel from 1924 to 1932 when it was bought by Major Oscar Morris, a keen fisherman and the owner of the Ambrosia factory at the far end of the village. Major Morris closed the hotel for four months in 1932, carried out extensive alterations and redecorations, and reopened it with a celebration dinner to which all the men were invited who had done the work. That year, 1932-1933, under Major Morris, was really the start of serious organised fishing at The Arundell Arms. A ghillie, Harold Bather, was employed. The old Tinhay limestone quarry, which had been flooded by the accidental broaching of a deep spring in Victorian times, was acquired and stocked. More beats on the rivers were bought or rented.
After Major Morris died the hotel was bought from the Morris family by my parents, Gerald and Anne Fox-Edwards in 1961. They made many improvements and transformed the hotel from a sleepy roadside inn into an
Colonel Patten-Thomas looked after the fishing until his death in 1967. Roy Buckingham became the ghillie in 1969, and in 1970 made his mark in the fly-fishing world by becoming Welsh Open Fly-Casting Champion. Roy continued as Head River Keeper and taught 1,000s to fish. On his retirement in
My father, Gerald, died in 1972 and my mother subsequently married Conrad Voss-Bark. Having run the hotel for 47 years, in 2008 Anne retired and since then the hotel has been run by
My mother passed away in 2012 but the fine standards she established are being maintained by the next generation for guests to enjoy.
Adam Fox Edwards.
MAKE SUNDAY SPECIAL!
We’re offering a Sunday night stay for two to include our signature 'Taste of the West' five-course tasting menu in our 2 AA Rosette restaurant, a glass of pre-dinner bubbly and breakfast for just £82.50 per person.
Terms & Conditions
Subject to availability. Rate shown is per person and based on two people dining on our five-course tasting menu, with a glass of bubbly in our main restaurant (excluding additional beverages) and staying in a Classic double or twin room, including breakfast the following morning. This offer is only available on a Sunday.